THANK goodness opting for a plant-food diet doesn’t mean giving up chocolate – now that would be a challenge.

Forget the smell of sizzling bacon (so often cited by meat lovers as a reason not to give up their carnivorous habits) or the delight of a slice of mature Cheddar cheese, a life without chocolate would be quite a step to take.

It turns out, you can find plenty of mainstream chocolate varieties that are vegan, providing you like dark chocolate, and fortunately I do. If you prefer milk chocolate, vegan substitutes can be found though you are unlikely to settle on anything that tastes exactly like Cadbury’s Dairy Milk.

However – if you enjoy dark chocolate, there’s no need for speciality shops. Most supermarkets will have brands that turn out to be animal-free if you check out the ingredients. Look at the ingredient list for dark chocolate in the Co-op, Sainsbury’s and others, and you may be surprised to find they are suitable for vegans. I’m including those bars which have only vegan ingredients but may have allergen advice about milk or eggs because of their place of manufacture.

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Dark Chocolate 85 per cent cocoa is £1.45 for a 125g bar, and if you don’t like your chocolate sweet, it’s a good one. You could also check out their Taste the Difference Dark Belgium Cooking Chocolate. This one’s £1.40 for 100g; it’s a little sweeter and pleasingly smooth tasting. Either is useful for cooking.

Green & Black make wonderful chocolate and their Dark 85 per cent organic chocolate is delicious. Softened with Madagascan vanilla, it has a rich, smooth taste and is a treat on its own, and I have used it for cooking. It’s a little more expensive at £2 for a bar. Their Dark 70 per cent organic chocolate is also vegan, if you fancy something a bit less intense.

Moving up the price range, chocolate makers Montezuma offer a variety of vegan chocolate – and not just bars. You can try their vegan and organic dark chocolate truffles, called Crème de Cacao. These are £6.99 for 120g (around eight truffles).

Finally, my very favourite vegan chocolate is made by Raw Halo. Made from organic Peruvian raw cacao, sugar-free and milk-free, this is chocolate of a higher order. It’s divine – but expensive. They do a variety of flavours and a single 70g bar of artisan Pure Dark is £3.99. Perhaps save this for when you want to treat a very special vegan someone.